What I Learned From My Husband About Having a Passion for Life

This is going to be a very personal blog to celebrate my husband Charles. My beloved passed away a week ago, but his lasting legacy will be his passion for life, especially for family, books and music.

What I admired most about him was his zest for learning. Once he became interested in a topic, he would become passionate about learning everything he could about it:  printing, typography, arctic exploration, and military history were just a few of his interests. His passion extended to the interests of friends, too. Once he learned what you were passionate about, he would pepper you with letters, articles, and books on the topic. His friends would say, “please don’t go out of your way for me.”

But the truth was, they were doing him a favor because he loved the “hunt.” He once told me he could literally feel his fingers tingle when he entered an antiquarian bookstore and he approached the stacks. He knew most of the books by their spines.

I learned from Charles how important it is to be passionate about life, your friends, the arts and your life’s work. Passion is what makes life so endlessly interesting and what makes us interesting to others. Thank you, Charles, for teaching me this great lesson of life.

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  1. Yup. You have captured the Essential Charles. We must remember the pleasures of passions when we give in to the blandness and impersonal nature of today’s technological ways. “The Hunt” has become so much easier – and so much less fun!

  2. Jeannette,
    My thoughts are with you during this difficult time. Though it may not have been easiest for you to share something so personal, thank you for do so and letting us all share in the gift of Charles. His life reminds us all that continuous learning is what makes getting up every day a gift and a joy.

  3. Dear Jeannette —

    All of us who knew Charles were so fortunate to have had him in our lives. And, of course, we’ve been doubly fortunate to have had both of you in our lives for all these years. Everyone who spoke at Charles’s memorial really captured his essence. That twinkle in his eye never faded — even his last days. How lucky I feel to have shared that last Chinese take-out meal with you, Charles and our friend, Joann just two days before Charles slipped away. That was certainly one of those typical New York moments that provided a wonderful backdrop to Charles’s life — a life well-lived.

    As I write this it reminds me that the last meal I had with my own father was at a Chinese restaurant the night before he died. So, Charles obviously had good taste in food. He also had good taste in the books, the art, the music and the people he adored.

    So I’d like to say thank you to Charles for enriching my life, making me smile and being my friend. And I’d also like to say thank you to you, Jeannette, for the joy you bring to all of our lives. No wife could possibly have been more loving , devoted and caring to her mate. Charles was so fortunate to have married you; you were so fortunate to have married Charles…and everyone you both have touched are so fortunate that our lives have been brightened by both of you.

    Your loving friend,


  4. Charles gave my lovely sister, Jeannette, many years of love, devotion, and “hero worship” for all the marvelous things she did in her life. He recognized in her the drive, ambition, and the achievements and awards acknowledging her many contributions to her profession and society.

    I will especially miss Charles; he integrated our two families into one, and this was a very special gift to us all.

    Farewell, dear brother

  5. Dear Jeannette,
    This is so beautiful and epitomizes Charles and your amazing love for him.
    YOU were the perfect couple.
    I am so glad I got to know Charles over the last few years and he always made me smile–he truly cared about every person and made anyone he spoke to the ‘center of the universe.’

    I’m so glad I was able to speak with him 2 weeks ago–and I’m thrilled to have you as a dear and wonderful friend.
    We will miss him at the concert next week–yet we will toast to his honor.
    PS I’m sharing your wonderful post on my blog

  6. Jeannette,

    Only you could tell a story this beautiful and this rich, from the deepest part of your heart. Thank you for sharing your precious Charles with us. Now he will live on in all of our memories, for this special passion.

  7. I remember when I used to call you for advice and Charles would chime in from across the room with something insightful that I hadn’t considered and we would laugh and call him the peanut gallery. I’ll miss him.

  8. Jeannette,

    Thank you for sharing about your loss. I too have gone through the same and I know she wanted me to keep living each day with passion and keep living my life. I have a very, very dear friend of late that is having difficulty letting go of her late husband (7 years) passing and I hope she will read this and hopefully, one day, realize that what he would want is for her to move on and be happy but never forget.

    Steve G.

  9. Opening your heart like this and sharing it with us is such a wonderful gift for your friends and a tribute to Charles and your relationship with him. I’ve always admired your spunk, Jeannette, and now I understand a little better where you got your inspiration.

  10. Jeannette, I am so sorry you lost your husband who was clearly the love of your life. My “Doc” would have been great friends with Charles. He also loves the thrill of the hunt. When I first met Doc I told him I was looking for a new car. He researched cars in the area and found the perfect one for me to buy. I thought he must really like me but it was just who he was. Always helpful, always researching something and always doing something to help others. Yes, I think Doc and Charles are cut from the same tree.

    God bless, I am so happy that you have such wonderful memories of someone so special. Jana

  11. Yes, Jana. I was so lucky to have him in my life and I’m glad that you have your own soul-mate. We were both blessed. Thank you for your lovely comment.